The Pentagon has authorized the transfer of $1 billion to begin new wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border, drawing objections from Democratic lawmakers. A recent budget reprogramming notification indicates that up to $1 billion will go toward building 57 miles of fencing, improving roads, and other measures on the southern border.
According to published reports, the Department of Defense authorized the Army Corp of Engineers to begin planning and construction for the project Monday night. The announcement was just the first $1 billion the administration is making available for wall funding, though it plans to shift an additional $1.5 billion in the future.
In February, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in order to funnel billions of dollars into wall construction. Under the national emergency, other funds can also be dedicated to building the wall and related infrastructure, including military construction funds.
Democratic senators signed a letter to Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan objecting to moving $1 billion in personnel funds to counter drug funds to go toward the wall. The Pentagon did not seek permission before notifying the committee of the transfer.
"We strongly object to both the substance of the funding transfer, and to the Department implementing the transfer without seeking the approval of the congressional defense committees and in violation of provisions in the defense appropriation itself," the senators wrote, according to CNN. "As a result, we have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military."
Source: CNN + Published reports